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Published on Mar 14, 2008
27 Rimatara Lorikeets Vini kuhlii have been released on the island of Aitu in the Cook Islands after an absence of almost two centuries.
The reintroduction proposal emerged from research in 1992 on Rimatara by Gerald McCormack and Judith Kunzlé of the Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust. For 15 years McCormack worked patiently towards the reintroduction, which was implemented with funding from the 2006 British Birdwatching Fair.
The reintroduction would not have been possible without the generous permission of the people of Rimatara, French Polynesia, for whom the lorikeet is a symbol of joy and wellbeing. Around a hundred years ago, the Queen of Rimatara imposed the tapu (taboo) which saved the lorikeet (also known as Kuhl's Lorikeet) from extinction within its natural range (though there are introduced populations on two of the Northern Line Islands, Kiribati).